Published: Wednesday 15 March 2000

A task force to assist developing countries integrate environment, trade and development policies has been set up with the assistance of the United Nations Environment Programme (unep) and the un Conference on Trade and Development (unctad). The task force will use the technical expertise of the two agencies and their networks of experts and national research institutions. The launch was announced in a joint statement released recently in Bangkok.

The main objectives of the task force are to help developing countries and countries with economies in transition to better understand the linkages between environment, trade and development and to assess the environmental, economic and social effects of trade liberalisation. It will also help developing nations to implement beneficial trade expansion policies and to participate effectively in trade and environment deliberations at the international level.

"Interest in capacity-building has intensified since the Third wto ministerial Conference in Seattle, which brought to the world's attention the need for more practical policy analysis and for innovative approaches to trade and environment issues," said Shafqat Kakakhel, unep deputy executive director. "We need to strengthen the development dimension in the trade and environment debate," said Carlos Fortin, deputy secretary-general of unctad. "The developing countries require greater capacities to address trade and environment issues and to build confidence amongst governments."

The two agencies said they hoped the current unctad x conference will serve as a launching pad for establishing a trust fund for the task force's activities.

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